Top 3 Challenges for Community Banks: Lessons from ABA NCCB 2017

February 27, 2017

Last week, the Abe team participated in the annual American Bankers Association’s National Conference for Community Bankers (ABA NCCB). The event focused on community banking trends and insights from the leading industry experts.

More than 25 speakers took the stage to discuss how to meet the key challenges of innovation, cybersecurity, and attracting new customers. The event consisted of over 40 workshops, focus groups, and demonstrations of new and innovative banking products.

We’re excited to have participated in this year’s conference. As advocates for community banks, we’re always looking for opportunities to support the industry. After all, we built our conversational banking platform, which we exhibited at the conference, with community bankers in mind. 

Check out the video below to see some of our favorite moments from the conference:

The conference was a lot of fun, and we learned a lot. During the 3-day event, we had the opportunity to chat with more than 100 bankers from all over the country. Because we’re interested in finding out more about how we can help community banks, we asked them about their biggest business challenges.

We noticed three main problems that most bankers were looking to solve.

1. Working with a core provider

Most banks are reliant on a core provider for the software required to operate. But a common theme we heard in our conversations with bankers was frustration with core provider services.

Why? For many of the banks we spoke with, their core provider is an expensive, slow-moving service that is difficult to work with. Many expressed reluctance to contact their core provider about any type of integration because it costs too much money.

Even worse, many core providers are inflexible, stifling any attempts to innovate. Without the support of their core service providers, banks are unable to get to market with new technology solutions that drive new customer acquisitions and revenue.

2. Offering personal financial management as a service

Personal financial management (PFM) is at the heart of retail banking. So why do so few banks offer PFM tools to help customers self-manage their finances?

As we found out at the conference, most banks don’t offer a PFM solution… but they want to.

Banks are increasingly recognizing the value of offering PFM solutions to their customers. Not only do these tools help customers by giving them the ability to track and manage their finances on their own, but banks can benefit too. PFM solutions help banks by boosting their customers’ financial well-being, reducing the number of inbound customer support requests, and providing unique customer data insights. Growing empowered, financially robust customers can drastically improve a bank’s bottom line.

3. Attracting younger customers

Another major theme of the conference was the challenge of attracting and retaining younger banking generations. Chained to heavy legacy infrastructures, many banks are struggling to win the business of tech-savvy and service-oriented customers.

The youngest generations of banking customers have grown up in the convenience economy, with smartphones and digital service offerings at their fingertips. Why go into a bank branch when you can do all your banking from your laptop or smartphone? It’s no wonder many tech-savvy consumers reject traditional banking services and are adopting alternative solutions to managing their financial lives.

Many bankers we spoke to are acutely aware of this problem but felt powerless to do anything about it. As much as they’d like to provide innovative new products and services, they’re unable to, either because of the high cost of innovation or due to internal red tape.

At Abe, we understand the challenges community banks are facing today. That’s why we’re developing innovative conversational banking solutions that put the latest advancements in artificial intelligence to work for community banks, helping them offer best-in-class services that improve customer acquisition and retention.

Interested in learning more? Check out additional banking and FinTech resources on our blog or click here to schedule a product demo.